Reduce, Reuse, Redesign: Home Decor Gone Green

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Green living shouldn't be considered as just a lifestyle trend for "tree-huggers" but a norm for everyone to follow. True, it's quite impossible for most of us to go 100% green. Some people may be fortunate enough to drive a hybrid car, use a solar water heater and buy everything organic, whereas the others may opt to simply install energy-efficient light bulbs and water-saving showerheads. Not trying to be eco-friendly at all, however, is very unwise. Many green products not only save the environment but also help keep some dollars in your own pocket! When it comes to eco-friendly home decor, there's a vast number of options. Before we take a look at green decorating room by room, let's keep these basic principles in mind.

Green Decorating in a Nutshell - How to be Environmentally Friendly

  • Choose natural and sustainable materials. When buying wood furniture, look for seals by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), American Tree Farm System (ATFS), or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). These certifications assure that the materials are from responsibly managed forests.
  • Choose products that are designed for long-term use.
  • Buy second-hand furniture or products made from recycled materials.
  • Buy products that reduce energy consumption.
  • If you have artistic skills, handcraft your own decor items, using available materials in your own home.

Eco-Friendly Living Room

Rattan Chairs. Rattan is a natural and sustainable material.
Rattan Chairs. Rattan is a natural and sustainable material. | Source
Denim Pillow Case Made From My Old Skirt
Denim Pillow Case Made From My Old Skirt | Source
  • When it comes to living room furniture, natural and organic materials are the most eco-friendly. Look for wood, bamboo or rattan furniture with nontoxic, water-based finishes. Better yet, your furniture should also have a sustainable forest-management certification, so you can rest assured your rocking chair is not made of wood from an endangered rain forest! To decorate your green living room on a budget, opt for recycled materials, such as recycled barn wood or cardboard. Furniture made from these materials is very affordable and helps conserve natural resources.
  • To save electricity, make sure your living room gets plenty of natural light during the day. Wood shutters, bamboo blinds and curtains made from natural fabrics are all eco-friendly. If you live in a very hot climate, woven solar shades can be a good choice, as they hold off heat and glare while allowing adequate sunlight to enter the room. On the other hand, if your home is located in a colder area, try thermal insulated curtains; they help maintain heat inside the room and accordingly reduce the use of heater.
  • If you're inclined to embark on little handicraft projects, try making your own area rugs or accent pillow cases from recycled materials, such as old clothes or leftover yarns. Mismatched fabric leftovers, for example, can be cut into thin strips and woven together into a colorful area rug.
  • Pay close attention to the final decorative touches. For example, forget about plastic wastebaskets and opt for wicker ones. Instead of adorning your coffee table with lifeless roses made from synthetic fabric and dye, make your room a little greener with fresh flowers. And if you have a lot of empty bottles laying around in the kitchen, turn some of them into beautiful vases for your living room.

All-Natural Wood Flooring
All-Natural Wood Flooring | Source
Greywater Toilet
Greywater Toilet | Source

Eco-Friendly Bathroom

  • For a green bathroom, select floor and wall tiles that are made of all-natural materials. Cork and wood tiles are very pleasing to the eye and easy to clean up. Cork tiles, in particular, contain impressive insulation properties, which can lead to lower heating and cooling costs. For budget-challenged homeowners, natural linoleum and rubber tiles might be a great choice, as they are very cost-effective and durable. Ceramic tiles are usually not considered an eco-friendly material because the production process of these tiles is often energy-intensive. However, recycled ceramic tiles are widely available nowadays, and their outstanding durability certainly qualifies them as a green product. If you decide to go with this option, pick the ones that don't contain lead and toxic chemicals.
  • Your bathroom cannot be truly eco-friendly without organic-cotton towels. Made from pesticide-free cotton, these towels are very soft and become even softer after each washing. The undyed version is the best, but if you really can't stand the boring off-white hue, choose organic-cotton towels that have been colored with low eco-impact dyes.
  • If you have a plastic or vinyl shower curtain, consider switching to an all-natural version. Flax and hemp are highly recommended materials for bathroom use, as they are naturally anti-fungal and antibacterial.
  • Do you know that toilets account for about 30% of water usage in the average household? To make your bathroom more water-efficient, opt for low-flow or dual-flush toilets. The low-flow toilet can save approximately 65% of water per flush. The dual-flush toilet is even better; it not only uses a similar low-flow technology but also comes with two-button activators that let you choose how much water to use. Last but not least, there is a new technology called "the greywater system", which allows us to use waste-water from the sink and shower to flush the toilet. Although this water recycling strategy has not yet been widely practiced, it has quickly gained more and more attention from the public, in the past few years.
  • Similar to low-flow toilets, low-flow showerheads and faucets are also very water-efficient and considered "must-haves" for an eco-friendly bathroom.

Eco-Friendly Bedroom


How Green is Your Bedroom?

Are you using eco-friendly bedding sets and mattresses in your home?

  • Yes.
  • No, but I'm considering them.
  • No, I prefer synthetic bedding products because they are cheaper.
See results without voting
  • As the bedroom usually doesn't require a lot of light, recessed ceiling lighting with compact fluorescent bulbs is an excellent option. Recessed lighting fixtures often come with control switches, allowing you to dim the lights while relaxing in bed and brighten them when you want to read or do other tasks. If you'd rather go with table or ceiling lamps, choose ones thjat are made from recycled or natural materials.
  • If you like to stay cool and comfortable at night, install window screens and let natural breezes filter into the room. A ceiling or free-standing fan is also a smart choice. It uses a lot less energy than an air conditioner. Plus, while most air conditioners look merely utilitarian, many electric fans are pretty chic-looking and can add quite a little charm to your bedroom.
  • Select bed sheets, comforters and blankets that are made from natural materials. Cotton, linen and silk are green materials that give you cool comfort on warm summer nights and provide warmth during colder times of the year. In addition, they're all hypoallergenic, which means they're safe for the health of allergic individuals.
  • Synthetic mattresses contain harsh chemicals, which have been added during the production process as a way to make them fire retardant. Eco-friendly mattresses, however, do not use these chemicals in any step of the process. Mattresses made from organic wool is the best eco-friendly option but unfortunately the most expensive as well. What makes wool such a great green material is the fact that it's naturally fire retardant, hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking and extremely durable. If you cannot afford pure wool mattresses, opt for the cotton or hemp versions blended with layers of wool instead. Cotton and hemp mattresses are also very eco-friendly although their durability is not as impressive as their pure wool counterparts.
  • Don't forget about the pillows! There are so many eco-friendly options out there, from cotton and wool to natural rubber and kapok. Cotton-filled pillows are very affordable and great for people who like their pillows a little firm. Pillows made of wool are soft, bouncy, hypoallergenic and naturally resistant to fire, mold, bacteria and dust mites. Natural-rubber pillows provide firm support and good ventilation. Plus, they're resistant to mold and mildew. And last but not least, kapok pillows! This odd-sounding fiber from kapok trees is very lightweight and durable. One downside of kapok filling is that it smells very musty once it gets wet, so you have to make sure your pillows stay clean and dry.

Water-Efficient Dishwasher
Water-Efficient Dishwasher | Source

To save water and energy, don't run your dishwasher with anything less than a full load!

Eco-Friendly Kitchen

  • The kitchen might be a great place to set up a home recycling center. For a small kitchen, you can tuck your recycling center into a corner of a pantry or build one inside a cabinet. If your kitchen has plenty of floor space, a large freestanding version might be a perfect choice.
  • If you have a garden, consider adding a composting crock to your kitchen. It is a very eco-friendly way to make use of food scraps. Good compost ingredients include vegetable and fruit wastes, grains (both cooked and uncooked), coffee grounds, used tea bags, egg shells, corn cobs, old bread, pizza crusts, noodles and basically anything made of flour. What you should NOT put into your composting crock are meat and fish wastes, dairy products and grease. These things usually attract rodents and maggots, and will also make your whole kitchen smell worse than an overloaded sewer.
  • When shopping for a new dishwasher, choose one that is water-saving and energy-efficient. An eco-friendly dishwasher usually uses just about 4 gallons of water per wash and saves at least 40% of energy.
  • If you're planning to buy a new refrigerator, choose one with Energy Star status. Believe it or not, replacing an old fridge with an Energy Star model could save enough electricity to light the average house for four months! And if you live alone or have a small household, consider a compact refrigerator instead of a full-size one. The smaller size the fridge is, the more eco-friendly your kitchen will be. Plus, it can make your kitchen appear a lot more spacious.

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Comments 12 comments

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine

Om, the denim pillow - it's so cute! The look of going green is natural and beautiful. The clean lines are appealing and make the atmosphere seem fresh. I also think it's much better to have linens that are Eco-friendly and ceiling fans just make me happy. Excellent contribution. -K

leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

The grey-water toilets are a really good idea. We live in a rural area and have a septic tank, which are AWFUL for the environment - I really wish our city would run a sewer line up our way! We're probably going to replace our carpet with bamboo flooring when we get the funds - I love the look of bamboo, and it is pretty eco-friendly.

greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 4 years ago from Malaysia

Yes, I like the denim pillow as well! Om, do you know that a Thai designer started using the water hyacinth, which used to be considered a 'pest' (as it grows so fast, all the oxygen in the pond will be taken up by the plant, giving problems to the fish) as furniture materials? It became so popular that it is now an expensive furniture! Great article. Voted Useful and interesting

lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

These are fabulous tips, Om! I love how ingenuity, creativity and green home decor go hand in hand. All it takes is a few minor changes and anyone can be on the path to an eco-friendly home environment. I just started a job at West Elm and they have wonderful green furniture and bedding options. Now I know where all my paychecks will be going! ;)

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@krsharp - Thanks! I like the simple and somewhat minimalistic look of eco-friendly decor as well.

@leahlefler - Great choice! Bamboo is very green, very sustainable. It grows a lot faster than most types of wood.

@greatstuff - No, I had never heard of that. How interesting! It proves that eco-friendly options are pretty much everywhere. We just have to notice them and utilize them wisely.

@lindacee - hehehe Well, I'm sure it will be worth your money!

brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

I could only wish for my bedroom to look that neat, organized and bright. I do use cotton flannel sheets, and have used a cotton quilt (it was used to death - it needs to be recycled now as it is tattered and torn). I also did not realize there are shower curtains made of anything but plastic; the thought of mildew resistant greatly appeals to me. Voted up, useful and sharing.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

Om, This is a great list of tips to go green. I love the look of the bedroom and the denim pillow is so cute. Very useful hub.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@brsmom - Haha....Since you had used your cotton quilt till its "death", you obviously know how to be a green consumer! Glad you stopped by.

@Pamela - Thanks, Pamela. Always glad to hear from you!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

My head is spinning from all of the ideas you've presented in this overview! I had no idea there were so many different ways to go eco-friendly with decor. Heck, just my bedroom alone can be completely re-done to be more eco-friendly, though I suppose I should just wait until everything wears out and is properly recycled.

Thanks for sharing these awesome tips.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

Ah, yes! That's very "green thinking", Simone. :)

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

Wonderful tips for green living. Ha! I have been accidentally green for years what with my old and used furniture. My attic bedroom gets so hot that in summer a fan is not enough. We have a little window AC we use at night while turning the main AC way up.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@Dolores Monet - "Accidentally green"! I like that. It proves that being eco-friendly can be quite effortless. Sometimes you don't even know that you've been doing it already. Thanks so much for dropping by, Dolores. :)

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